When you are an employer there is nothing more disheartening than finding out that your employees have stolen from you. They are people that you trusted and you never thought they would steal from you, but when the moment came they took advantage of your trust. How can you prevent employee theft and make it less likely to happen? Here are some tips that you can keep in mind.
Have Strong Screening Procedures Before Hiring
When you hire someone, make sure that you do a background screening on them to find out if they have ever been in trouble with the law for theft before. Often past behaviour can be a good indication of future behaviour and if someone has been convicted of theft before you don’t want to trust them to handle your money.
Have a System for Inventory Management
If you don’t have a system for managing inventory, it is difficult to know what is being stolen and how much is being lost. The best way to do this is to use software that is designed for this purpose. Some businesses with very high priced goods, such as electronics, high-end tools, equipment or diamonds, will do inventory every day. When you keep a close eye on your merchandise you will know right away when something has been stolen. Also, if employees know that you keep a close eye on it then they will be much less likely to steal because they know you will find out right away.
Use a Buddy System
Design your policies and working processes so that one employee is never left alone with access to the cash or valuable items. Have two employees around for opening and closing the premises and in retail always have voids and refunds witnessed by another employee or a manager. When you are making the rotation, avoid having close friends work together as they might be more likely to cover each other for a theft.
Set Up Cameras
Your employees will be much less likely to steal from you if they know you are always keeping an eye on them. Setting up a video surveillance system can help to deter employees and also allow you to identify the criminal after it happens. You can set up a high definition video camera so that you will be able to clearly identify the culprit. Another way to let your employees know that you are watching is to have unannounced internal audits, as well as a yearly audit that is performed by an outside firm.
Eliminate Easy Opportunities for Theft to Happen
Take a look at your business from the perspective of a thieving employee and try to see the weak points which could make it easy for them to steal. For example, make sure that you require your employees to have a receipt if they purchase merchandise, borrow items or written authorisation if they need to work outside of normal hours. Also, sometimes employees steal merchandise by concealing it in the rubbish, or external skips and retrieving it later. Put some controls here to prevent this, such as using clear refuse bags, covering and/or locking all skips and ensure all boxes are required to be flattened. Also, try to design your premises and the employee working areas so that all areas are visually open, so that it would be very difficult for an employee to steal something without being seen.
Have A Signing in and Out Sheet
Do you know which employees are on your retail premises at all times? If you don’t have a sign in and sign out procedure it’s hard to know who is at work and who isn’t. When you create a signing in and out system that everyone is required to stick to, this will provide employees with some accountability. If something is stolen, then you will be able to narrow down your suspects to someone who was on shift that day. If your employees know this, they will be much less likely to steal because they know that their presence at work is traceable.
Encourage Honest Communication
It is very important to create a culture of honest communication in the workplace. You can let your employees know that if they see anyone doing anything suspicious, they should mention it to the manager. You can even set up an anonymous hotline that is managed by a third party so that people won’t feel bad about reporting. Sometimes retailers for example, will offer rewards for reporting theft, such as a flat amount or a percentage of what is recovered. If your employees know that their co-workers are looking out for theft they will think twice about stealing because there are higher odds that they will be caught.
Know Your Employees
Pay attention to your employees and be alert to anything suspicious which could be key indicators of potential theft. This could be a sudden devotion to working late which wasn’t there before, or a lifestyle that appears to be well above their salary. Also, any employees that are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse are more likely to be tempted to steal from their employer to support the habit. Get to know your employees so that you understand who they are, where they come from and will notice if they start to act out of character.
Understand Your Computer Systems
It is important to understand how your computer systems work, so that you can see how they might be used to divert money or reallocate goods. When you see the loopholes that criminals could potentially use to skim money off the system, you can fix these issues. Make sure that employees don’t have full access to the back end of the system and check on a regular basis to make sure that computer security measures are updated regularly, and always in place and functioning correctly. Employee theft can be a real problem that can cost you a lot of money, but with these tips you can do as much as possible to prevent it. When you make employee theft more difficult and encourage a culture of honesty in the workplace you will reduce your risk of theft and enjoy a positive and trustworthy working environment.